Some Tips I Learned Along the Way – Rick Steves Travel Blog

At 66, I felt a bit like the father of the hiking community when I hiked Mont Blanc earlier this fall. But the Tour du Mont Blanc is doable for any reasonably fit hiker, and there were plenty of people on the trail who were older than me.

For total beginners like Shelly and myself, it’s wise to be proactive about health and safety. Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way.

Good shoes, socks, non-slip powder and moleskin are essential for sensitive skin. We’ve kind of become equipment junkies, investing in good day bags (Osprey), fleeces (socks, underwear, shirts) and great hiking boots. I have never been so thankful for a woolen hat in Europe.

I was skeptical of many “good ideas”, but two things I ended up appreciating were the daily trail mix and my metal water bottle. (I complained about its hefty $40 price tag…but soon realized it was a great value).

I have to say, if the weather turns bad and it rains hard, I don’t think most of the trail would be fun at all. In fact, it would be dangerous. Trekking poles are essential and even in perfect weather I would be worried about being lured without my trusty set.

Eat a solid breakfast. One day we had breakfast without protein, climbing was more difficult.

Put on sunscreen even if the weather is bad.

After learning my lesson about other long hikes, I decided to be religious about stretching in the Tour du Mont Blanc from the start. I had six stretch routines and spent time throughout the day making sure I didn’t stretch. Very important!

Don’t be a hero. If the skin gets hot, wrap it up. I did the whole TMB hike without a blister and then just got it on purpose in the last two hours.

Good gear, smart and active ways to stay healthy, stretch and take it easy…everything was just great.

I’ll be sharing more photos, stories and tips from Mont Blanc in the November 29 edition of the Monday Night Ride. Do you want to come? Sign up now for this fun — and it’s free! – event.

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